ERIC Identifier: ED459425
Publication Date: 2001-12-00
Author: Brynildssen, Shawna
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Reading English and Communication Bloomington IN.
Highlights of Reading Research in the Labs and Centers of the
U.S. Department of Education. ERIC Digest.
The mission of the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Educational
Research and Improvement (OERI) is to provide "national leadership for
educational research and statistics." This mission includes promoting excellence
and equity in education by conducting research and demonstration projects,
collecting statistics, disseminating information, and providing technical
assistance to those working to improve education
As part of this effort, OERI supports two major research and development
programs: the National Research & Development Centers and the Regional
Educational Laboratories. The twelve university-based Centers address specific
topics such as early childhood development and learning, student learning and
achievement, and cultural and linguistic diversity. The ten Laboratories,
serving geographic regions across the country, work to ensure access to the best
available information from research and practice for those involved in education
improvement. Since improving reading skills in American children is a top
priority for the U.S. Department of Education and the nation, this Digest will
review a sampling of recent reading-related research and development initiatives
being conducted by the Labs and Centers.
CELA: IMPROVING ENGLISH AND LITERACY ACHIEVEMENT
National Research Center on English Learning & Achievement (CELA) has
recently studied how the various components of curriculum can work together to
support higher literacy levels in elementary and secondary school students. The
research included exemplary elementary language arts instruction, exemplary
instruction in middle and secondary schools, the role of school subjects, home,
and community in lifetime literacy, the role of technology in literacy
achievement, and teacher education and professional development
Some of CELA's studies reveal the importance of balance in effective
curriculum, instruction, and assessment. These studies suggest that rather than
using a single approach, effective programs find a balance in which basic skills
and meaningful activity support and enrich one another. Detailed descriptions of
these findings are available on the CELA web site.
CELA has published two booklets which synthesize the research and practical
classroom strategies that work: Guidelines for Teaching Middle and High School
Students to Read and Write Well and Improving Literacy Under-standing through
Classroom Conversation. Research embodied in the latter booklet is also
reflected in a national public television series entitled Envisioning
Literature, to begin airing in January 2002 on the Annenberg/CPB channel.
New work underway by CELA will build on previous research and will involve
design, implementation, and professional development studies to design programs
for schools and districts that are seeking to improve student learning and
achievement in English. Currently, CELA is focusing on the Partnerships for
Improving Literacy Learning. Additional information on this program can be found
on the CELA web site.
CIERA: EXAMINING EMERGING READERS
A number of research initiatives are underway at the Center for
theImprovement of Early Reading Achievement (CIERA). In a 2001
presentationentitled "A New-comer's View of Current Research at CIERA," the
center'sco-director, Joanne Carlisle, offered a synopsis of the most recent
studies(Carlisle, 2001). They included:
A comparison of the effects of three phonics programs on decoding and theability
to read connected text.
A comparison of 3-4 year olds already reading connected text andnon-precocious
readers from middle and low-income households.
A study of the role of informational texts in first grade, and the impactof text
diversity on reading comprehension.
A study of computer programs specifically designed to improve literacy inAfrican
A four-year study examining the effectiveness of a preschool literacyprogram for
Research on how watching "TV stories" can prepare non-reading preschoolersfor
later studies, as well as information on recent CIERA presentations and a
training kit and information on the CIERA School Change Classroom Observation
NCREL: STRATEGIC TEACHING
One of the signature programs at
the North Central Regional Laboratory (NCREL) is a long-term professional
development program known as STRP. An acronym for "Strategic Teaching and
Reading Project," STRP seeks to improve reading at all grade levels by helping
teachers take a strategic approach to reading and teaching. At the core of the
STRP curriculum are five compre-hension strategies. Mary Foertsch, coordinator
of NCREL's Center for Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum, describes them in an
interview with Kroeger & Blaser (1999) as: (a) activating prior knowledge
before, during, and after reading; (b) inferencing, which is the use of
reasoning skills to formulate conclusions from something that is known or
assumed to be true; (c) using metacognitive strategies, which, broadly defined,
means taking charge of your own learning and thinking about how you learn; (d)
understanding word meaning; and (e) knowing about text structure" (p. 1).
Currently, NCREL is developing an online professional development course
based on the STRP principles. The course will provide educators with current
research on reading strategy instruction, as well as examples and suggestions.
SEDL: A COGNITIVE FRAMEWORK
The Southwest Educational
Development Laboratory (SEDL) recently completed a four-year Reading Coherence
Initiative. The study involved 44 kindergarten, first grade, and second grade
teachers in 8 different schools, all of which had significant numbers of
struggling readers. Researchers examined the cognitive elements necessary to
reading acquisition and how those elements fit together, ultimately forming a
framework for early reading. The framework, published under the title The
Cognitive Foundations of Learning to Read, was designed to help educators better
assess individual students' reading progress and implement student-centered,
individualized instructional strategies. (SEDL web site:
LAB AT BROWN: BEST PRACTICES FOR LITERACY SUPPORT
two literacy-centered initiatives are in progress at the Northeast and Islands
Regional Educational Laboratory at Brown University.
* Adolescent Literacy in the Content Areas: Through researching and
collecting best practices, the Lab has developed four key components of the
adolescent support network. They include social and emotional motivation;
instructional strategies; a cross-curricular approach; and organizational
* Regional Early Literacy Practices: In four separate studies of
high-performing schools in Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, and Connecticut,
researchers have identified explicit practices and characteristics that are not
present to the same degree in low-performing schools. The characteristics
identified include a belief in the potential of all students, substantive
professional development in literacy, time set aside specifically for literacy
instruction, use of student data to improve instruction, strong school-family
partnerships, and a shared vision and mutual respect among school staff (Lab at
Brown, The Knowledge Loom: http://knowledgeloom.org/elne/index.shtml).
Other reading-related programs are similarly under way at the Northwest
Regional Educational Laboratory (NWREL), the Pacific Resources for Education and
Learning Laboratory (PREL), and the Mid-continent Research for Education and
Learning Laboratory (McREL). Access to information on these and other ongoing
reading initiatives being conducted by the Labs and Centers, respectively, is
possible through the following sites:
Carlislie, J. (2001). A newcomer's view of
current research at CIERA. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the
California Reading Conference, Ontario, CA.
Center for Improvement of Early Reading Achievement. Retrieved October 10,
2001, from http://www.ciera.org
Kroeger, M., & Blaser, S. (1999). How reading engages children. NCREL's
Learning Point, 1(2). Spr/Sum. [ED 438 529]
National Research Center on English Learning & Achievement. Retrieved
December 14, 2001, from http://cela.albany.edu
North Central Regional Educational Laboratory. Retrieved October 10, 2001,
Northeast and Islands Regional Educational Laboratory at Brown University.
Retrieved October 10, 2001, from http://lab.brown.edu/public/index.shtml%20&
November 16, 2001, from http://knowledgeloom.org
Southwest Educational Development Laboratory. Retrieved October 10, 2001 from
U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Research and Improvement.
Retrieved November 17, 2001, from http://www.ed.gov/offices/OERI%20